In November 2016, LEAF provided the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples with a submission on Bill S-3 and ending sex discrimination in the Indian Act.
LEAF’s submission argued that Bill S-3 represented a piecemeal approach to reform. The bill failed to achieve full equality between Indigenous men and women in eligibility for and transmission of status under the Indian Act.
Bill S-3 left intact significant areas of sex discrimination. For example, under Bill S-3:
- Individuals who were born before September 4, 1951, trace their status through the maternal line, and have grandmothers who married out are still disadvantaged relative to male line descendants.
- Female children born outside of marriage to status men prior to September 4, 1951 are disadvantaged under these status provisions, as are their descendants. In contrast, male children born outside of marriage of status men and their descendants are ligible for full s. 6(1)(a) status even if they were born prior to 1951.
- Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC)’s discriminatory policies governing unstated and unknown paternity remain intact. In cases where women are unable to establish the paternity of their child, for instance because the child was born out of rape or a relationship characterized by violence, INAC treats the child as if it has only one status parent. This systematically disadvantages women who are lone parents and their descendants.
LEAF acknowledged that Bill S-3 was intended to be the first of two stages of Indian Act reform. Other issues – including undisclosed or unknown paternity, the second-generation cutoff, federal authority to determine status, and Indigenous jurisdiction over citizenship – might be addressed in the second stage as part of a broad, Nation-to-Nation conversation. This broader reform was essential: the second-generation cut-off was designed to – and would – result in the eradication of status Indians in Canada within 100 years. LEAF supported the call of Indigenous governments and organizations for this Nation-to-Nation conversation.
Nonetheless, LEAF urged the Committee to ensure Bill S-3 removed all vestiges of sex discrimination from the status provisions. This would be an essential first step towards meeting Canada’s obligations towards Indigenous women under international law, and would set a strong foundation for a broader Nation-to-Nation conversation about moving beyond the racist and colonial Indian Act.
Read and download the submission below.2016-11-29-LEAF-Submission-to-the-Senate-Standing-Committee-on-Aboriginal-Affairs-on-Bill-S-3-corrected